China Uses Rules on Global Trade to Its Advantage
By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: March 14, 2010
HONG KONG – With China’s exports soaring, even as other major economies struggle to recover from the recession, evidence is mounting that Beijing is skillfully using inconsistencies in international trade rules to spur its own economy at the expense of others, including the United States.
Seeking to maintain its export dominance, China is engaged in a two-pronged effort: fighting protectionism among its trade partners and holding down the value of its currency.
China vigorously defends its economic policies. On Sunday, Premier Wen Jiabao criticized international pressure on China to let the currency appreciate, calling it “finger pointing.” He said that the renminbi, China’s currency, would be kept basically stable.”
Worldwide arms trade flourishing despite recession, report warns
Average volume of sales increased by 22%, with South America and south-east Asia seeing the biggest rises
guardian.co.uk, Monday 15 March 2010
The worldwide arms race has accelerated, most dramatically in South America and south-east Asia, despite the economic and financial slump, according to a report published today.
The average volume of arms sales increased by 22% over the past five years, compared to the previous five-year period, says the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The last two of these years were marked by worldwide economic turbulence which has far from stabilised, yet the arms trade is booming, it finds.
The report does not give the cost of the arms trade because most governments no longer release the figures. Britain stopped publishing the cost of its arms sales last year.
Democratic leaders say health bill will pass
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2010
Democratic leaders scrambled Sunday to pull together enough support in the House for a make-or-break decision on health-care reform later this week, expressing optimism that a package will soon be signed into law by President Obama despite a lack of firm votes for passage.
The rosy predictions of success, combined with the difficult realities of mustering votes, underscore the gamble that the White House and congressional Democrats are poised to make in an attempt to push Obama’s health-care plans across the finish line.
Obama losing chance to reshape judiciary
Liberals had hoped he would counter a slew of conservative appointments in federal courts made by his Republican predecessors. But that hasn’t happened.
By James Oliphant
March 15, 2010
Reporting from Washington
An early chance for the Obama administration to reshape the nation’s judiciary — and counter gains made in the federal courts by conservatives — appears close to slipping away, due to a combination of White House inattention and Republican opposition.
During President Obama’s first year, judicial nominations trickled out of the White House at a far slower pace than in President George W. Bush’s first year. Bush announced 11 nominees for federal appeals courts in the fourth month of his tenure. Obama didn’t nominate his 11th appeals court judge until November, his 10th month in office.
Moreover, Obama nominees are being confirmed at a much slower rate than those of his predecessor, largely because of the gridlocked Senate.
Asylum deportation flights need rights monitors, EU says
Suggestion comes as the EU’s external border agency, Frontex, prepares to assume extra powers
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 14 March 2010 23.42 GMT
Deportation flights should carry human rights monitors to check on the safety of failed asylum seekers who have been forcibly removed, a senior EU commissioner has recommended.
The suggestion comes as the EU’s external border agency, Frontex, prepares to assume extra powers to charter aircraft, buy equipment and explore satellite technology to survey the union’s frontiers.
Research by the Warsaw-based agency on the use of drones – unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – to patrol frontiers is being closely followed in Britain, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has confirmed. Although the UK is not in the Schengen agreement, which removed most EU internal borders, it is closely involved with Frontex.
Sarkozy’s party humbled by left in French vote
Monday, 15 March 2010
President Nicolas Sarkozy suffered a national beating by voters who took their frustrations over the economic crisis to the ballot box and clearly favored his leftist challengers in regional elections.
Near-complete official results showed Socialist and other leftist candidates dominating Sunday’s first round vote to choose governments of France’s 26 regions. The decisive runoff is March 21.
The far right National Front party had a stronger-than-expected showing after years in decline, buoyed by voters worried anew about immigration and France’s growing Muslim population.
White House goes on the offensive against Netanyahu
Israel’s announcement of new settlements was ‘insulting’ and ‘calculated to undermine’ peace talks with Palestinians
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem Monday, 15 March 2010
Israel’s government was yesterday facing the worst chill in relations with the US since taking office after a top White House official said the announcement of plans to expand an East Jerusalem settlement seemed “calculated to undermine” the negotiating process.
Earlier Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to a welter of local media reports about the new “crisis” in relations with Israel’s closest ally by telling a weekly meeting of his Cabinet: “I suggest that we not get carried away – and that we calm down.”
Election monitors’ report increases doubts over fairness of Iraq election
From Times Online
March 15, 2010
Oliver August, Baghdad
Independent election monitors in Iraq have raised significant concerns over the conduct and fairness of last week’s national poll.
A high-level Iraqi report obtained by The Times details violations across the country and includes evidence of the army and police interfering directly with voting on March 7. Based on testimony compiled by three non-governmental agencies, the report says that in some Iraqi provinces “security forces were urging people to vote for a specific list”.
Election monitors also observed “the presence of a number of security forces even within the voting hall, which sometimes hindered the movement of voters and confused them about ensuring privacy in the voting”.
Survivors of family killed in Afghanistan raid threaten suicide attacks
From The Times
March 15, 2010
Jerome Starkey, Afghanistan
A family whose members were killed in a botched night raid in eastern Afghanistan have rejected “blood money” from the Government and vowed to carry out suicide attacks unless the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a policeman and his brother were shot dead on February 12 by unidentified gunmen. Eight men were arrested in the raid on the village of Khataba in Paktia province. They have all been released.
Kim Jong-il keeps $4m ’emergency fund’ in European banks
Kim Jong-il, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, has a $4 billion (£2.6 billion) “emergency fund” hidden in secret accounts in European banks that he will use to continue his lavish way of life if he is forced to flee the country.
By Oliver Arlow in Tokyo
South Korean intelligence officials told The Daily Telegraph that much of the money was held in Swiss banks until authorities there began to tighten regulations on money laundering.
Mr Kim’s operatives then withdrew the money – in cash, in order not to leave a paper trail – and transferred it to banks in Luxembourg.
The money is the profits from impoverished North Korea selling its nuclear and missile technology, dealing in narcotics, insurance fraud, the use of forced labour in its vast gulag system, and the counterfeiting of foreign currency.
Colombia vote: Former FARC hostages run for Congress
Six former FARC hostages – each held for years by the leftist rebel group – are running for Congress in Sunday’s Colombia vote. Voters are choosing 102 senators and 166 representatives in the legislative elections.
By Sibylla Brodzinsky Correspondent / March 14, 2010
After spending long years chained to trees and at the mercy of leftist rebels, most of Colombia’s former FARC hostages swore off politics when they were unilaterally released two years ago, saying they would dedicate themselves to their families and to making up for lost time.
But six of the former political hostages of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have plunged back into politics, seeking seats in Congress in Sunday’s legislative elections. Some of the former hostages say they feel better prepared to represent voters after their experience with the “other Colombia.” Others say they’re just trying to pick up their lives where they left off.